In what is clearly a rebuke of the SHPO’s rubber-stamping of the 5,000 objections submitted by extremist objectors, the National Park Service (NPS) returned the Eastmoreland Historic District nomination to the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). On June 29, 2018, the NPS sent a letter to the SHPO returning the nomination instructing the SHPO “to ascertain whether these trusts are valid, and whether they have a fee simple ownership in the properties at issue.”
The fact that the NPS did not accept the SHPO’s request for a determination of eligibility (which means the technical criteria for listing on the National Registry have been met, but that a majority of property owners have objected), is a pretty clear indication that they do not readily accept the sham trusts submitted by 4 Eastmoreland households. There is good evidence that counting these trusts as SHPO contradicted Oregon state law. Per ORS 195.300(18):
(18) “Owner” means:
(a) The owner of fee title to the property as shown in the deed records of the county where the property is located;
(b) The purchaser under a land sale contract, if there is a recorded land sale contract in force for the property; or
(c) If the property is owned by the trustee of a revocable trust, the settlor of a revocable trust, except that when the trust becomes irrevocable only the trustee is the owner.
Unfortunately, this now means that the ball is back in the SHPO’s court. As we’ve seen throughout this process, SHPO has been slow to take action, has failed in their fundamental duties, and has allowed abuse of the process. We can only hope that they will execute their job properly this time around.
In it’s July 2, 2018 response, SHPO notes simply that “The Oregon SHPO will develop a plan to respond to the NPS.”
So, this issue remains unresolved. Stay tuned for more updates.